More thoughts as we approach the end of MLB’s regular season.
There isn’t a whole lot of doubt left about who’s going to the playoffs this year. With just under two weeks remaining, only two teams in the AL have any chance of making the playoffs (Tampa Bay and Seattle), and it would take an epic collapse by Oakland for one of them to get in. Over in the NL, five teams still have a mathematical possibility of snagging a Wild Card slot, but only one–Colorado–has a realistic shot.
Colorado also has a legitimate shot at winning their division, and if they do, LA and St. Louis will be fighting over the second Wild Card.
So there’s still a bit of excitement left in the playoff race, but the odds are good the ten teams will be settled before the end of the season.
So what do you do when there’s no playoff drama and no chance your team will make it in?
You could ask Jackie. After all, her Orioles are going to lose somewhere between 108 and 118 games this year*. She made the front page of The Baltimore Sun with her explanation of how to survive your team’s worst season ever.
* While it may feel like the Os were eliminated before the All-Star Break, they actually still had a mathematical shot at the playoffs until August 20, one month ago today. Which says a lot about how little difference there is between a champion and a, uh, not-champion in MLB.
While Jackie gives good advice–it’s about acceptance, giving up attachments, and keeping a sense of humor–she doesn’t offer much guidance in what to do while your team plays out their thread.
My prescription is to pick some potentially attainable goals and cheer for those.
Baltimore has already attained their most obvious alternate goal. They can’t possibly set an MLB record for losses. Even if they lose all their remaining games, the 1962 Mets’ 120 loss record will stand.
So, how about a positive goal? Fifty wins is meaningless, but it’s a nice, round number, and they can reach it by winning six of their final ten.
Or there are personal goals. Offensively-oriented fans can cheer for Nelson Cruz’ pursuit of forty home runs. He came up one short last year, but with ten games left, he only needs four more to do it this year. Meanwhile, J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox is looking to be the first Triple Crown winner since 2012*. He’s currently leading the AL in RBIs and sitting in second for home runs and batting average.
* The Triple Crown is a difficult feat. It’s only been won sixteen or seventeen times (there’s some doubt about stats prior to 1920 or so). Before Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012, you’d have to go all the way back to Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Meanwhile, fans of pitching can watch the Mariners’ Edwin Díaz chase the all-time saves record. That’s about as likely as the Orioles reaching fifty wins, as he’d need seven in the Ms’ last ten games, which would imply Seattle can win seven of ten from the As and Rangers.
Really stats-minded sorts might keep an eye on the fielding stats. As of this writing, twenty-seven players have had error-free seasons. As best I can tell, that would be the most perfect fielders in a season since 2008. Okay, okay, nobody cares about that, except for the folks at Rawlings, who give the Golden Glove award to the best fielders at each position. But I needed something to look for on defence.
Anyway, for the next two weeks, I recommend choosing small, attainable goals. Once we hit the playoffs, we’ll have about a month to soak up all the baseball we can to tide us over to next year.